I know her well,—a thing that few can say—
So far within the shade her quiet life,
So softly flow its tides from day to day,
So gently do its hidden fountains play.
And she—she is a mother and a wife.
What is she like? Ah, that I do not know.
I scarce can tell the color of her eyes,
So changeful are the lights that come and go—
Now a quick sparkle, now a thoughtful glow—
But always tender sweetness in them lies.
Beautiful?—why, yes, if beauty is a thing
That one can feel and lean one's heart upon;
Beauty of form and hue not now I sing.
Her beauty is that which soon takes wing,
And leaves but ugliness when youth is gone.
Her hands are lovely, yet they are not white,
Nor even small. Their beauty each one sees
Who feels their ministrations deft and light.
I think they are the fairest in the night,
Cooling some hot brow, soothing pain to ease.
She is a queen; and yet no jewelled crown
Enfolds the soft bands of her shining hair.
Love is her coronet. Hands hard and brown,
And tiny baby fingers, clasp it down.
Methinks that is the holiest crown to wear.
Silent her work, and all unknown to fame.
Of loud, for sounding praise she never dreams.
The world's great trumpeter's know not her name.
Her steady light is no wide-flaring flame;
'Tis but a fireside lamp, that softly gleams.
I do not know—I think her way is best.
Her husband trusts her, and her children rise
With sweetly smiling lips, and call her blest.
She does her duty, leaves to God the rest.
She is not great, but, surely she is wise.